The Izod IndyCar Series Baltimore Grand Prix was run for the first time last year amidst much fanfare and handwringing. The fanfare was because of the location and uniqueness of the street course, which was in downtown Baltimore and went past Camden Yards. The handwringing was because of funding issues for the race.
The race went on -- Will Power won -- and is on the IndyCar schedule to return for 2012. However, the financial tension looks like it's returning too.
After the city of Baltimore terminated its contract with Baltimore Racing Development at the end of 2011, Downforce Racing Group took over as the organizers of the event for 2012. Efforts for the event apparently aren't going smoothly.
There was a March 15 deadline for the contract for the race to be finalized. In covering the organizational efforts for the race, Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Scharper contacted the Maryland Stadium Authority about the contract's finalization for more information. After hearing back from the MSA, Scharper was inadvertently included on an email from an MSA attorney to a spokesperson for Downforce saying that the contract situation "could present some PR problems."
Oops. And what are those PR problems, exactly? Well, it seems that in the email dated from Tuesday, April 3, that the contract still isn't signed.
From: Hahn, Cynthia [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 7:01 PM
To: Hardesty, Jan; Scharper, Julie
Cc: Frenz, Michael J.
Subject: RE: Agreement with Downforce Racing
Downforce RAcing has never returned a fully executed counterpart of the contrac to MSA, unless MIke has received it over the last 48 hours. Last I heard, Mike had advised Reck that we needed a properly executed counterpart, and Reck said he would provide it. That was last week, before I left on vacation. I have received nothing since.
MSA's receipt of the signed copy is critical for a few reasons. First and most obviously, until we receive their signed counterpart, their is not contract. That leads to the second part that is relevant for PIA disclosure purposes: If there is no final contract, there is nothing to produce. Draft and partially executed versions of contracts are exempt from disclosure. Mike's signed copy is not subject to disclosure, until DFR signs off on teh agreement--and signs off properly in a manner that is legally binding.
Bottom line: MSA has nothing to disclose to the Sun yet. Because this could present some PR problems for DFR, I will contact their attorney. You should refrain from discussing this with the Sun until Reck has a chance to get MIke his properly signed counterpart.
If Mike has it, then MSA's counterparty signed by Mike can be released. I do have the pdf of it that Pam sent over to me. However, the original of the pdf is likely retained by Mike and Pam.
I will copy you, Mike and Pam on my communication to Reck's attorney. At this point, I would give the Sun no information until we find out if Reck has the necessary signatures.
While it may not be time to panic about the status of this year's race just yet, it's not an encouraging sign for the Labor Day Weekend event that issues have affected the event's organization -- by two different organizing groups -- in its first two years. (However, this does serve as another reminder to always check who you are sending an email to before you hit the "send" button.)
And sadly, those dreaded monetary troubles aren't unique to Baltimore for the IndyCar Series as well. Last year's Edmonton race was canceled for financial reasons for a couple months before being uncanceled and run in July. It's also scheduled to be run in 2012.